I can only imagine the whining that ensued when students in 10 Massachusetts schools were told that their school day would stretch from a 6-hour schedule to an 8- or 9-hour day. But the results are in, and according to this article in the Boston Globe, it’s working.
The students in schools with longer days scored higher on the MCAS--Massachusett’s state-wide standardized test--in math, English, and science across all grade levels than students in schools with a normal schedule, according to a report released on Friday. It makes sense to me that being in school for a longer amount of time would increase students’ test scores, but what is more surprising is how schools are making use of the additional 2 or 3 hours.
From the article, it seems like most teachers aren’t using the extra time to cram in more information--instead, they’re adding in hands-on activities to reinforce the curriculum and explore topics more fully. Also, a lot of schools are giving kids a chance to take electives, like art and sports activities, which have been squeezed out of the schedule because of time constraints, say the principals.
It’s hard to pinpoint exactly what is boosting achievement for these schools, but I’d be willing to bet that at least part of it has to do with motivating students through creative, engaging activities, and giving kids a chance to relax and explore non-academic subjects that interest them.
A version of this news article first appeared in the Motivation Matters blog.